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  • Herman Melville was an American novelist, writer of short stories, and poet from the American Renaissance period. The bulk of his writings was published between 1846 and 1857. Best known for his sea adventure Typee and his whaling novel Moby-Dick, he was almost forgotten during the last thirty years of his life. Melville's writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid transformation. "In Melville's manipulation of his reading", scholar Stanley T. Williams wrote, "was a transforming power comparable to Shakespeare's". Born in New York City, he was the third child of a merchant in French dry-goods who went bankrupt. After the death of his father in 1832, his formal education stopped abruptly and the young man briefly became a schoolteacher. He then signed on as a common sailor for a merchant voyage to Liverpool in 1839. A year and a half into his first whaling voyage, in 1842 he jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands, where he lived among the natives for a up to a month.

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  • Reappraisal of his work in the twentieth century has restored his reputation as one of the finest American writers.

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